106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made to identify with and support the needs of undocumented Irish in the US; the extent to which ongoing negotiations continue to take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 40090/17 asked on 21 Sep 2017)
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 92 and 106 together.
On 30 June, the Taoiseach appointed Deputy John Deasy as Government envoy to the US Congress to work on the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States.
Deputy Deasy undertakes his work with the US Congress and Irish immigration centres under my overall direction and that of the Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon, TD. I have discussed the Government’s priorities in this area and how the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can best support him in this new, important role.
In meeting the challenges of this new role, Deputy Deasy works closely with and is supported by the recently appointed Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Dan Mulhall, as well as the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, DC, and our Consulates across the United States.
Our Embassy and Consulates continue to monitor issues regarding immigration reform in the United States on a continuing basis. They also work very closely with Irish immigration centres in the United States in providing support to Irish immigrants in the US, including members of the undocumented community.
As the Taoiseach has indicated, Deputy Deasy will not be provided with any additional remuneration for this role. His travel and subsistence expenses are covered from within the existing resources of my Department. Likewise, the staff resources required by Deputy Deasy for his work are drawn from existing resources in relevant sections of my Department, as needed and on a case by case basis.
Deputy Deasy has made two substantive visits since his appointment – one at the end of July and the other at the beginning of September. In Washington DC he met with senior political contacts from both sides of the aisle. The Deputy will appreciate the confidentiality which have to attach to such meetings on so politically sensitive a topic in the U.S.
Deputy Deasy has also engaged with Irish community and political representatives in New York and Boston. He remains in continuing contact with the Embassy in Washington and with officials of the Departments of the Taoiseach and of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The work of Deputy Deasy forms part of the ongoing engagement by my Department on the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States. In addition to the Deputy’s meetings with prominent leaders, on both sides of the aisle, our diplomatic network across the United States continues to engage at every opportunity with representatives of the Administration, as well as Irish community centres, to seek relief for the undocumented.
I can assure the Deputy of my continued commitment, and that of the Government, to working with our U.S. contacts to make the case for relief for the undocumented Irish.